I'm Canadian and getting married in Canada in 5 weeks. My fiance is British. The plan was to go to the UK right after the wedding (I don't normally need a visa to come for up to 6 months) and apply for a spouse visa once I'm there. That would give us 2 and a half years to decide whether to stay in the UK longer or live in Canada or somewhere else.

However I just found out I'm not allowed to apply for a spouse visa while in the UK, only when I'm outside the UK. I also can't apply just before entering the UK because I'm not allowed to enter while waiting for the spouse visa to be approved. Approval is likely to take about 6 months. All this is true for a fiance visa as well from what I understand. I don't know why the system makes things unnecessarily difficult.

Fortunately I'm eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme, and that only takes about 3 weeks to get approved. My understanding is that I'm allowed to apply for a spouse visa when in the UK on a youth mobility visa. That's based on what I've read here https://www.burnesspaull.com/insights-and-events/news/when-can-you-apply-for-a-spouse-or-partner-visa-from-inside-the-uk,-and-when-do-you-have-to-leave-the-uk-to-apply and here https://iasservices.org.uk/how-to-switch-to-spouse-visa-uk/ since I will have permission to be there longer than 6 months and won't be a visitor.

However from what I've read on sites like this it seems like doing anything even slightly different from the usual pathway could get me in deep trouble and that prospect is very scary. I'm not sure how exaggerated those comments are. Would the UK government have a problem with me getting a youth mobility visa to live in the UK for up to 2 years then applying for a spouse visa to stay for longer? (They would be able to see we married before I arrived in the UK) Would they have a problem with me entering the UK with my British wife on a youth mobility visa?

To be clear I will be completely honest on my visa applications and with immigration officers. As I said we're not entirely decided on whether to live in the UK so I may not even apply for the spouse visa in the end but I need the option to be there.

Thanks so much for any advice.


1 Answer 1


Too long for a comment:

If I were you I would consider paying for a faster decision on your spouse visa application.

Using the ‘priority service’ means you’ll usually get a decision within 30 working days for Family visa applications from outside the UK. It costs £500 in addition to the application fee.

Using the ‘super priority service’ for visa and settlement applications means you’ll usually get a decision by the end of the next working day. This option costs £1,000 extra.

It can take longer to get a decision, for example, if the Home Office needs to ask you for more information.

If the decision takes longer, you will not usually get your money back.

Note that Canada’s maximum Youth Mobility visa allocation for 2023 was 8,000. I don’t know what the 2024 allocation is, however it seems possible you may qualify for, but not be able to get, a YMV if the allocation has been filled. As to whether applying for a YMV rather than a spouse visa is advisable, since the stakes are high and a refusal might make your future plans harder to achieve, you might want to get advice from a qualified Immigration adviser/lawyer

  • Thanks so much for your help. I'm concerned however that I won't be able to get the marriage certificate until about 8+ weeks after the wedding, and I think I'd have to go back to Canada to get it. So would I even be able to prove my marriage sufficiently for the spouse visa before then? I'd just have a record of solemnization from the wedding. Do you think there would be a problem if instead I get the youth mobility visa and later switch to the spouse visa?
    – Hairfridge
    Commented Mar 17 at 19:09
  • How would refusal for the YMV have negative effects? Wouldn't I just be able to apply for the spouse visa instead?
    – Hairfridge
    Commented Mar 17 at 19:15
  • @Hairfridge I don’t know if a YMV refusal would have a negative effect on a subsequent spouse visa application, just in general refusals can tend to make further applications that little bit harder. Switching from a YMV to a spouse visa while in the UK seems to be allowed, if I were you (I’m pretty risk-averse where immigration matters are concerned) I would get qualified advice to be on the safe side.
    – Traveller
    Commented Mar 17 at 20:23

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